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ACLU files complaint against Montanas pipeline project

Posted at 10:26 PM, Feb 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-08 00:26:58-05

The American Civil Liberties Union wants to know how the state of Montana plans to handle any protests for the Keystone XL pipeline and say state agencies are withholding this information.

The ACLU has filed a complaint they say is about the right to know and the First Amendment.

They want information about state agencies plans in the event of a demonstration about the Keystone XL.

Concerns come partly from the protests for the Dakota Access in North Dakota.

The Standing Rock Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, whose reservations are near the pipeline route, argue against the project.

ACLU's complaint is against Montana Disaster and Emergency Services and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.

The ACLU states in its filing that both agencies have not produced requested documents or documents have been heavily redacted.

According to the ACLU, federal agencies are contemplating closing property around Fort Peck Dam and this would impede free speech and free association.

"We are concerned that certain government agencies might be actively trying to inhibit protest activities even though protests are First Amendment rights," said Lillian Alvarnez. "You have the right to exercise free speech and if you choose to exercise that right through a protest, it is not illegal. We are concerned there may be tactics being used to prohibit activists from protesting."

We contacted the Department of Justice, but they say this is a matter of pending litigation and they do not have a comment at this time. Alvarnez expects a state response in the next 45 days.